Notice my contact info to the right, if you want to contact me with any questions. I would also like to say that I do attempt to give credit where credit is due. I do not make any claims to cakes in my blog except the ones in my slideshow. If I show a cake I will try to post some type of identifer with it, however, if I don't know who posted the cake it is impossible for me to do that. I am only using the cake to illustrate a specific technique.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Just had to let my followers know about this

I recently ordered the new Cake Central Magazine. Oh my, all I can say is love it, love it.

If you want to get to know about the professionals in the cake industry, they do a highlight in each issue of one of the top cake or sugar artists in the industry each issue.

If you want to see some top notch cakes, the have probably around 50 cakes per issue.

If you are looking for some off the wall recipes, boy do they have them.

And I guess they are going to start putting in more tutorials as well.

It also tells you where you can purchase some of your tools inexpensively and tools you may not know where to find.

This is definitely a worthy read.

Not to mention that Debi Brim also does articles for them about the business side of things. Way to go Debi!

You can order digital downloads too. If you are interested in the magazine, you can go to and click on the shop tab.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Level your cakes with a tea towel?

Ok, I was skeptical, but I have to admit...this just blew my mind. The first time I heard someone say they flattened out their cakes with a tea towel while they were still hot, so they didn't have to level them, I thought..."they are just being lazy and the cake is probably smooshed to crumbs". I usually am willing to try something once before discounting it though. So, I was doing a cake for here at the house, and I thought...what the heck...if it falls apart I'll just make cake balls instead.

So when my cake came out of the oven, I took my trusty tea towel and pressed on the top of the cake until it was level with the top of the pan. I let it cool in the pan and flipped it out onto my cake board. It was still one solid piece. Ok, so far so good.

Now, will it hold up to the icing. I put on my crumb-coat with no problem. I put on a layer of icing with no problem. I couldn't believe it. It actually worked. I will have to admit though, the whole time I was paranoid the cake was going to disintegrate.

It goes against everything I would have thought about cake making, but it does work. It was probably one of the easiest cakes I have done thus far. So, I guess I can only say...what the heck...give it a shot.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Putting fondant on a round cake

I have already told you in an earlier post about putting fondant on a square cake. I guess I did it first because I find it more difficult to do. So, now I will show you how to apply fondant to a round cake via this video. I hope that you will find it helpful. Here is the video:

If you notice in the video, she pulls the skirt of the fondant out as she works the fondant up against the cake. Also, you will notice that when she is using the smoothers...on the top she works from the center out toward the outside.

Icing a cake

On the poll I posted I had a request for info on how to ice a cake. This is by far the best tutorial I have seen, so I would like to share it with you. As for me, I am still learning myself how to do this well, and I do not believe that I would be such a good example to follow. So here she is, Edna De La Cruz. She knows her stuff.

Edna's video is the one on the bottom. This is also another good one (thanks to Seriouscakes for her video):

Monday, January 17, 2011

My new experiment

Ok everyone, I am trying a new-to-me technique. I am going to be experimenting with gelatin to see how I can apply it to my cake decorating. I have been doing some reading up, and I will have to let you know how it goes.

So far, I have made some flowers and some butterflies...then I threw away some flowers and some butterflies, because I made them to thin and they shriveled up. Then I made some thicker flowers and butterflies, and so far so good. This is the recipe I am using if you would like to try it yourself.

Gelatin for flowers and butterflies

1 tablespoon Knox or other brand gelatin (plain), not Jell-0 brand
2-1/2 tablespoons cool water
Molds for making flowers or butterflies
Paint brush with soft bristles that won't pull out

In a small microwave safe container combine the gelatin and water. Let this mixture "bloom" or sit for 5 minutes. Heat in the microwave for 5-10 second intrevels until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from the microwave and let it rest until the all the "scum" raises to the top (about 5-10 minutes). The scum is the part that looks like melted marshmallows. Peel the scum off the top. You may need to reheat at this point. It should be about the consistency of fingernail polish. Brush the gelatin into the molds until you have a medium thickness (you don't want it to thin, but you don't want it to thick either). You will have to play with it a bit to find the right thickness. If your gelatin becomes to thick to work with, just pop it back in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.

I tried painting on a silicone mat the first time around, and I got them to thin. I tried another batch though, and it was ok. I also tried painting some on a sheet of clear gelatin is so thin you could use it for bees wings, dragonfly wings, butterflies wings, fairy wings. It would also work for windows in houses or car decorations.

You gotta try this stuff. I'm thinking up new ways of using at warp speed.

Oh, and I just want to throw in there...don't store your decorations in a sealed air-tight container...they WILL mold. Just put them in a styrofoam container or cardboard box. They will be fine for days, so you can make them ahead of time. If you have leftover gelatin, store it the same way. When you are ready to use it again, just pop it in the microwave.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cake Extenders

I was asked by a friend what a cake extender was. Well, to put it simply, a cake extender is ingredients added to a box cake mix to make it go farther. I have a couple of recipes that are pretty simple if you would like to try one. I, however, can't vouch for either as I haven't had the opportunity to use them yet. If you try them you will have to let me know how they are.

For the first one you will need:

1 box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Cake Mix (My preferred)
1 box Jello Brand Pudding
1 cup sour cream

Sift together the dry cake mix and dry pudding in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients for the cake mix and the one cup of sour cream. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture just until combined. Pour into your already prepared cake pans. Bake as you usually would, except adding a few extra minutes baking time. Check with a wooden skewer. Cool as usual.

or, you could try this one:

1 box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Cake Mix
4 eggs
1 box Jello Brand Pudding (e.g. white chocolate, vanilla, cheesecake for white cake or chocolate for chocolate cake)
2-3 Tablespoons oil
1 Cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients (cake mix and pudding mix) in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients (eggs, oil, water, vanilla). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into already prepared cake pans. Bake as usual, except adding a few extra minutes to baking time. Cool completely and decorate.

I am anxious to try these, but I haven't made any cakes since I got the recipes. Let me know what YOU think.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cutting your cakes.

One of the worst things to see at a wedding or a party is the way some people completely and utterly destroy a cake when they cut it. I don't know about you, but it can be depressing to put that much work into something only to watch it be destroyed by someone who doesn't know how to properly cut a cake.

Most party cakes are sliced into 1-1/2" x 2" pieces, and wedding cakes are sliced in
1"x 2" pieces. Here are some basic instructions for cake cutting:

To cut round cakes, move in 2" from the cakes's outer edge; cut a circle and then slice approximately 1-1/2 inch pieces within the circle. Now move in another 2 inches and cut another circle; slice approximately 1-1/2 inch pieces. Continue until the cake is completely cut. Let's say, for instance, the cake is a 12" round. The server would cut a circle around the cake 2" in from the outside edge. Once these serving were all served, the server would move in another 2" and cut another circle. This leaves a small inner circle which can be cut into wedges. The exception to cutting in 2" from the outside edge rule is the 6" round, which should be cut into wedges without the center circle. Cut petal and hexagon cakes similar to round cakes.

To cut square cakes, move in 2 inches from the outer edge and cut all the way across, then slice approximately 1-1/2 inch pieces. Now move in another 2 inches and continue until the entire cake is cut. Cut Sheets similar to square cakes.

When cutting wedding cakes, Wilton provides this handy cutting guide. As it notes, however, this is based on the 1" x 2" sized serving. If you would like the larger 1-1/2" X 2" party servings, these charts will need to be changed accordingly.

If you are unsure, go to the Wilton website at They have lots of helpful info.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My daughter's first Giant Cupcake!

For Christmas, my daughter bought me the giant cupcake pan. I think this is a wonderful idea for a smash cake for a 1st birthday. It is adorable. I had been wanting to try it out, but I have been very busy. So, she tried it out for me.

She made, entirely from scratch, a wonderful carrot cake with caramel icing. Here is the recipe, if you would like to have it:

This recipe was from a local recipe book and Nancy Latier submitted the recipe. However my daughter added a few spices of her own to her liking:

Sugar and Spice carrot cake

4 eggs
1-1/2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
1-1/2 Cups grated carrots (3 large)
1-1/3 Cups vegetable oil
2-1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

She added the following to spice it up a bit:

1/4 teas. nutmeg, 1/4 teas. pumpkin pie spice, and 1/4 teas. ground clove

Beat eggs and sugar untill fluffy and slightly thick. Add carrots and oil; blend well. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt (add extra spices here if you want to add the extra). Stir into egg mixture. Pour into greased 13X9X2 inch baking pan (She used the giant cupcake pan with extra to spare). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (the cupcake pan took about an hour). Cool in pan. Frost. Makes 12 servings.

Caramel Icing

This recipe came from CDKitchen

One-Minute Caramel Icing

1 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teas. vanilla extract

In a large cast-iron skillet, brings sugars, milk and butter to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute.

Remove from heat. Pour into a heat-safe mixing bowl. Carefully beat with mixer at high speed until icing reaches spreading consistency, about 15 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Spread on cooled cake.

Frosts 2 8-inch round cake layers or one bundt cake.

My daughter said that the icing got too thick on her, but she just added a little warm milk until it reached the proper spreading consistency.

It was very tasty. I really liked it...with the extra spices it was sort of a combination carrot cake and spice cake all rolled into one. It had a firm consistency and was very moist.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What is the strangest thing you have put on a cake?

Well, in answer to my own question, I have used brown sugar for sand, homemade hard candy waves, and green fruit by the foot for seaweed just to name a few.

If you have never worked with hard candy, you may find it is something you enjoy. If you have the proper molds, you can make candy gems to put on your cakes or just make lollipop for the kids. Or like I can use it to make waves come right out the sides of your cake. There are a couple of ways to make hard candy. You can use a commercial product called Isomalt or you can use regular sugar. While the isomalt candy is supposed to be more stable, the sugar is more readily available.

Isomalt is used commercially to make the candy less sticky and have a longer shelf life. You can order isomalt online, I'm not certain where you could purchase it otherwise (unless places like Michaels or Hobby Lobby would carry it). I have never worked with isomalt to make hard candy, but if you would like a recipe here is one I found on the website (they carry the Isomalt as well on their site for $4.99/pound):

ISOMALT Hard Candy Recipe

1 cup Isomalt
4 Tablespoons Hot Water
Liquid food coloring as desired

Combine Isomalt and water in a 1 quart heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat while stirring with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Dip a pastry brush in water and wash down the sides to prevent crystallizing. Insert a candy thermometer to monitor temperature. You may have to wash down the sides with water one or two more times. Cook until mixture reaches 320 degrees and remove from heat. The syrup is VERY HOT! Take precautions to prevent burns.

When syrup stops bubbling, slowly add flavoring and food coloring if desired. When using molds, make sure they are the proper molds for candy and not the ones for chocolates, as the molds for chocolate will melt. Prepare your molds by spraying them with Pam or lightly oiling them. Pour hot syrup into molds and allow to harden 10 minutes. Unmold onto waxed paper. If the weather is humid, wrap in candy bags to prevent the candy from becoming cloudy.

The use of a candy funnel will make this job much easier. Please remember that large candies can be a choking hazard with children.

If you would like a recipe using regular sugar, here is one from "The Joy of Cooking" cookbook:

Hard Candy or Lollipops
makes about 1-1/2 pounds
Bring to a boil in a large, heavy pan:
1 cup water
Remove from heat. Add and stir until dissolved:
2 cups sugar
3/4 Cup light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon butter
Return to heat. When boiling, cover for about 3 minutes so the steam can wash down any crystals on the sides of the pan.
Uncover and cook at high heat without stirring until the thermometer reaches 310 degrees. Prepare a slab or molds by brushing them well with butter or oil. If you are going to make lollipops, have stiffened lollipop cords on the oiled slab ready to recieve patties. Remove candy mixture to low heat and add:
a few drops of coloring matter
(Here is where you would add your LorAnn Oils...see note below)
Choose a vegetable color suitable to the flavor you have decided to use. An alcohol-based flavor like vanilla will evaporate in the intense heat. So be sure to use a flavor based, instead, on essential oils. For the above recipe, for instance, we suggest one of the following:
1/4 teaspoon, or less, oil of peppermint or
1 teaspoon, or less oil of orange, lime, or wintergreen
1/4 teaspoon or less oil of cassia or cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon oil of anise

Some of this recipe may sound was orginally printed in 1931. My suggestion would be to use some LorAnn oils of whatever flavor you like best and add about a teaspoon (which is about all there is in the small bottles I think).

Working with chocolate molds

How would you like to make your own peanut butter cups or mint cups. It is so super easy, you won't even believe it.

I know what you are thinking, what does this have to do with cakes. Well let me show you this darling cake done by Elaine Macgregor. Watch for the pink heart cake. I love this idea for a mother's day cake.

To get started you will need candy molds. Try to find molds in the shape of peanut butter cups or molds deep enough you can put filling in the centers. You can also buy actual bon-bon type molds. You will also need a microwave-safe glass bowl, chocolate, vegetable oil or shortening, a good bristled paint brush, peanut butter (for peanut butter cups), butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, meringue powder, mint flavoring of your choice (peppermint will give a peppermint patty flavor, spearmint, wintergreen).

For Peanut Butter Cups:
In a saucepan, melt 1 cup of peanut butter and 1 stick of butter on low heat or in a double boiler. Just completely melt the peanut butter and butter, you don't want the mixture too hot. Once melted, remove from heat and add powdered sugar until the mixture forms a soft fudge consistency. Set aside.

In a microwave-safe glass bowl, melt your chocolate on 50% power in short intrevels (15-20 seconds at a time) until completely melted. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little bit of vegetable oil or shortening to thin it slightly. You should be able to spoon the chocolate into the cups, and brush the chocolate up on the sides of the cup with the paint brush. *Note: If the chocolate hardens in your brush, place it in the warm chocolate to remelt it. Once you have spooned chocolate into each cup and brushed the sides with the chocolate, let it harden. Once the chocolate has hardened take a small amount of the peanut butter fudge mixture and roll it into a ball small enough to fit inside the cup. Place the ball in the cup. Gently flatten the ball slightly with the tip of your finger. Once all the cups have been filled cover each with more chocolate. Let these harden. Once hardened you can remove them from the cups by ever so gently twisting the tray first one direction and then the other. Remember to do this gently.

For Vanilla flavored Cups:

In a mixing bowl, cream a stick of softened butter until it reaches a velvety consistency. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of meringue powder. Now add enough powdered sugar to make an icing stiff enough to roll into a ball. Set aside.

Repeat the steps above for lining your cup molds with chocolate. Now, instead of the peanut butter balls, add the vanilla flavored balls. Flatten the balls with the tip of your finger, and cover the vanilla balls the same way as the peanut butter. Let them harden and remove them from the cups.

For Mint Flavored Cups
Follow the instructions for the Vanilla flavored balls, except omitting the vanilla flavoring and adding the Mint flavoring. You can add more flavoring for a mintier flavor but you will also need to add a little more powdered sugar.

You can also add other flavors: strawberry, orange, and raspberry YUM.

If you have the bon-bon tray you can fill them this way as well. Another idea is to melt caramel and cool enough to roll into a small ball and put the caramel ball into a bon-bon. Just try to make sure it isn't so hot it melts the chocolate.

Another option is to mix a little shredded coconut to some chocolate and spoon over the tops of vanilla bon-bons that are some on wax paper. Or take some of your melted chocolate and add some unsalted spanish peanuts and spoon over caramel bon-bons or vanilla bon-bons on wax paper. Add quarter of a maraschino cherry to your vanilla bon-bons.

Wrap in fancy foil wrappers from your local party supply store and viola, you have your own homemade chocolates. Let your imagination run wild!

Transfer an Image from Paper to Chocolate (Chocolate Transfers)

This is so easy and so fun! It will kick up the looks of any cake! It's a Chocolate Transfer!

Here is what you will need to do your transfer: candy-melts in the color of your image and color you want to outline with, shortening, bowls and spoons for each color, a disposable icing bag for each color, round icing tips #2-#4, microwave, sheet cake pan, wax paper, scotch tape, plastic gloves, plastic container large enough to hold your transfer (unless you are putting directly onto the cake)

To get started, tape your image to the bottom of the cookie sheet, and then tape the wax paper over the image. Set aside.

Let's say for instructional purposes that the image is a bouquet of flowers. Start with the color you are going to outline your image with (like black). Melt the outlining color in the microwave on 50% power in short intrevels (15-20 seconds) until completely melted. If the candy melts seem to thick, add shortening a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. It should be thin enough to pipe out of an icing bag, but thick enough it won't run out of the icing bag. Spoon the melted chocolate into the icing bag with the number 2 round tip. Trace the different elements of the image with the outline color (e.g. outside edges of petals, leaves or the veins of leaves, stems). Let this harden.

Once the outline has hardened up, you will add your other colored chocolates to the image one at a time using an icing bag with the larger round tip like the number 3 or 4 round tip.

Make sure you do the outermost layer first. What does this mean? Well, let's say the flowers have a yellow center. You will want to melt your yellow candy melts for the the center of the flower. But...if the yellow centers have brown specks on them, melt the brown candy melts first and do the specks first in brown and let them harden. For something small like this you could just dab on with a toothpick or paint brush. Once the brown hardens, melt the yellow candy melts and add the yellow to the image. But only melt one color at a time, so the candy melts don't harden back up. If the petals have a dark blue color around the center of the flower, but the actual petal color is light blue, then you would melt the dark blue first and let it harden before melting the light blue. You can also feather the chocolate with a paint brush. To explain what I mean, if the center of the flower is dark blue and fades to a light blue, you can do this. Pipe on the dark blue center and with your dry paint brush lightly grab the chocolate and pull the dark blue down the length of the petal a short ways lifting the brush as you pull. This will make the dark blue "feather" down the petal (Similar to brush embroidery).

Once all the colors have been added to the image, it will be necessary to remove any air bubbles. Lightly tap the cookie sheet on a flat surface to accomplish this.

Let the chocolate transfer harden. This will probably take at least an hour depending on the size of the transfer. Once hardened, put on the plastic gloves (to prevent melting the image and fingerprints on the image) gently peel the image away from the wax paper. Your transfer is now ready to store in an air tight container. These transfers can be kept for a few days, so you can do these ahead of time. All that remains now is to add this element to your cake, or you could use smaller images (e.g. bees, butterflies, hearts) on cupcakes.

Image how pretty a nice smooth buttercream cake would look with your beautiful bouquet of flowers in the center and smaller flowers on the sides. You may want to put a border around the image for a nicer appearance. You could also do some cupcake liners with a pretty ribbon attached and a lovely butterfly topping it off.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Caker Must Haves

You will find when you embark on your new caking journey it requires the right kind of equipment. And, like with an hobby, it can get to be expensive if you run right out and buy all the "toys" of the trade. While these "toys" are great, if you can afford them, a lot of them are not necessary, and I would suggest making sure this is really something you want to pursue before making a large investment in said "toys".

Some of the more expensive gadgets you can buy include, The Cricut Cake Machine, Edible Image Printers, Air Brush Systems, and other miscellaneous tools. While they are wonderful products, they are not necessary to do the job. However, they do make it more convenient and once learned can be faster then doing it all by hand.

Some less expensive options are (instead of the Cricut) using plastic cutting boards, exacto knives, stencils, patterns, or cookie cutters to cut out your own cut-outs. Instead of an edible image printer use icing bags, printed images, wax paper, scotch tape, icing tips, recipes for royal icing and buttercream, a clear sheet of plastic or glass (tape the edges) to make a royal icing transfer or a frozen buttercream transfer. And instead of an air brush system get a good set of paint brushes, clear vanilla, and at least the primary (red, yellow and blue) icing colors.

Using the above mentioned tools, you can make your own cut-outs, make a royal icing or Frozen Buttercream Transfer, and hand-paint your own cakes.

Other things that are nice to have include: molds (you can make your own), gumpaste, flower making tools (you can start out with an inexpensive set...I got mine at Michaels for $20.00), a good rolling pin, cookie cutters, edible ink markers, pizza cutter, non-skid foam (for transporting cakes), etc.

If you get really passionate about caking, you will (and I guarantee it) find caking tools in the strangest places, especially hardware stores. I find my walking through a store and something catches my eye, and I think, hey this would be good for doing such and such on my cakes. One good example of this is the bench scraper tool. Go to the hardware store and find you a really good wide putty knife. Or, like one of the ladies on (Melvira) does... she smooths her buttercream icing with one of those rubber paint rollers you get from the hardware store. Here is Melvira's post from cake central.

Other strange items might be toothpicks to help thin the petals of flowers, scrapbooking stamps to stamp images on fondant (e.g. footprints, wedding bells), stencils from the craft section, thin plastic cutting boards to use a cake lifter, homemade icing spatula out of an empty container lid. This is ultimate recyling at its best. I think two of the best ones I have heard of though are using a carpenter's laser level to help tort your cake and a drywall cutting tool to cut out your own cake boards out of cardboard or foamcore board. Look around will be surprised at what you can find for little or no cost.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Caking Scrapbook

Ok, ladies (and gentlemen), I want you to run right out and get you a big 4" notebook and tab dividers. Why, you ask? Well let me tell you.

When I started my whole cake designing love affair, I was so clueless. I didn't even know where to start. So, I went out and bought me some pans and I thought, "how hard can it be"? Big mistake. Because, now I don't know how much batter to put in them, I don't know how long to bake them, I don't know what recipe to use to fill them, I don't know what kind of icing to...well you get the idea.

Then I decide to go about the whole thing methodically. I have the internet, so I have the tools. I start researching...everything. Now I have this big stack of printed out pages. So, if I really had gone about it methodically, the first thing I would have done was buy me a notebook.

Now I have my notebook and my tab dividers, and this is how I have it divided up:

Tab 1) Mixing Info - here I have a chart that I got from the Wilton site. It has all the info for 2" pans. They also have one for 3" pans. You may want to make some corrections to this (I found that I needed to add slightly more batter to get them to rise above the pan for torting), and I generally bake my larger cakes at 325 degrees for a longer period of time to keep them from drying out.

Tab 2) Preparing the cake - Here I keep all my info on baking, torting, icing and stacking. Wilton has some great info to get you started here too.

Tab 3) Miscellaneous Info - Here is where I keep all the random but useful info I gathered along the way, but I don't have it divided out into specific categories yet (I'm not real organized).

Tab 4) Recipes - This is where I keep all my recipes I have downloaded from the internet. You can split it out further by dividing it into separate tabs for Cake Recipes, Icing Recipes, Filling Recipes, Misc. Recipes (this one for recipes like gumpaste glue, or Rice Krispie Treats, etc.)

Tab 5) Idea Think Tank- Here I keep all my design ideas or photographs of cakes I would like to take some inspiration from.

Tab 6) Templates- When you begin doing Royal Icing Transfers or Frozen buttercream Transfers you will use templates to "draw" on with your icings. I always keep a spare template in my notebook in case I want to do that same template again.

Tab 7) My Cakes - I always take a photo of my completed cakes and stick a copy of it in my notebook. I do this for several reasons. First, I like to show them off (I am not lying), Second, I would like to eventually get to a point where I could use it as a portfolio (you never know, I might someday want to go pro...I said someday), and Third, if a friend wants a cake but doesn't know what kind of design they want you can flip out your old notebook and say hey, you like any of these. But seriously, if you ever have any intention of doing this on a higher level then I do, you might seriously want to have a portfolio of your cakes to show to a perspective client or bride. As for me, I just do it for the fun of it...forget the stress.

But even if you don't eventually want to go is a good way to keep all your cake stuff in order. Pretty convenient when you need a bit of info too.

Disco Dust is a NO NO!

I am one of those people that just love sparkly things.

I recently got a request from a friend to do her daughter's 5th birthday cake, and her daughter told her exactly what she wanted on it. It was to have pink flowers and butterflies. The rest was up to me.

So naturely, being this is for the most adorable 5-year-old you ever saw, I aimed to please. I was intent all day thinking about what my design for this cake was going to be, and I'm thinking sparkly, sparkly...something sparkly. Then it hits me. I'm going to do some pink carnations and a smaller flower with little butterflies flying just above them and one already landed on the flowers. But the butterflies just MUST have some sparkle. DISCO DUST! Yeah. So, I go buy some disco dust, and I don't usually do that without looking into whether it is food safe or not. But, I'm thinking, "Hey, they sell it in the cake making section, it has to be edible", right...wrong.

After researching Disco dust, low and behold I find out that it only supposed to be used on non-edible items. It turns out that disco dust is a very finely ground plastic. WHAT! I'm so glad that I didn't put it on the cake yet. I had only intended putting it on my butterflies (which I was going to make out of royal icing) anyway, but still...nowhere on the container does it say that it is for non-edible items only.

So, just FYI you may want to look into your dusts and glitters and see just whether they are meant to be used on the cake or the non-edible parts that go on the cake. One lady mentioned in her post that she was upset because she put it all over her cake thinking it was edible. I'm sorry but I don't believe I will be putting any finely ground plastic on this beautiful little girls cake. I think I will just dust them with sugar.

Quenary Academy Clay art cakes decoration 陶艺蛋糕装饰 4

Covering a square cake with fondant

To starch, or not to starch.

There has been some debate on whether it is safe to use cornstarch when rolling out fondant or not.

I have done a little research on the internet regarding this topic and will share the information that I have found thus far.

Most of the sources would indicate that it is not generally a good idea to use cornstarch, especially if the cake will not be eaten promptly. But cornstarch should absolutely never be used on fondant that will be placed on top of marzipan.

The reason for this being, when the cornstarch is trapped between the fondant and the wet surface of the cake, the cornstarch will begin to ferment. When the fermentation begins, it causes the cake to have a bitter flavor.

I have heard discussions that sway both ways, and I know some people that have used cornstarch for many years. I haven't had enough personal experience with cornstarch to give a personal view, so here are some of the comments I have found that say not to use cornstarch to roll out fondant.

Never roll marzipan out onto cornstarch as it can cause the paste to ferment which can spoil your beautiful work of art. – TWIS

Stop causing fermentation from corn starch – Sweetwise (“The Mat” use of the mat)

Dust your hands and working surface with icing sugar or corn starch (icing sugar MUST be used if the fondant will be laid over marzipan as corn starch will cause fermentation). – Korean Top News

No one is saying that CS is BAD for you..............
The "reaction" that Norm couldn't recall is FERMENTATION.
When CS gets wet and is then sealed in a plastic bag with the fondant, it can ferment using the sugars in the fondant. It degrades the fondant--it goes wet & gooey if it goes on for a long time. Over the short period, it can create a bitter taste (think beer).
Using simple logic, you can see that with a moist cake + CS on the underside of the fondant, you could have the perfect envrionment for anything from large bubbles (fermentation creates carbon dioxide gas) in the fondant over the short period to a disgusting mess over the long period (think cake stored on the counter for a few days).
I know, I know, it's never happened to you.............but fact is, it can.
The real $$ concern is putting fondant rolled out on CS back into fresh fondant and contaminating that. You think you have 5lbs. of good fondant and go back to find 5lbs. of a hot mess.
It's not a myth or urban legend or some evil plot to ruin the CS processor of the world............It's just based on food science and it's info that should be considered by any conscientious baker.
And 3% of CS is a WHOLE LOT different than 100% CS. You'd have to expect a MUCH larger reaction when using 100%..............Blakescakes on

As Blakescakes eluded to...there is also cornstarch in powdered sugar, but only 3%. So, powdered sugar is a lot less likely to ferment than pure cornstarch. Some sources say not to use either, to only use pure icing sugar (which is, if I'm correct, the same as powdered sugar without the cornstarch, and you can correct me if I'm wrong).

I guess in the end it is a matter of personal preference, I always use a small amount of shortening and a vinyl mat. I didn't like the white powdery look on my fondant when I used a 50/50 mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar, so I switched to the method I use now. If you do use cornstarch, you may (or may not) want to look into an alternative method for rolling out your fondant.

Happy Caking!

Monday, January 3, 2011

That Cake Costs HOW MUCH!

I am always amazed by the people who like to watch these reality shows. They watch the cake designing shows and just drool over the amazing creations. These creations that seemingly only take one hour (the length of the show) to make. What a load of horse pucky.

If you are a cake designer, you know that there is a lot of pain-staking work that goes into one of these cakes. It can take anywhere from hours to days to complete a cake depending on the type of decorations that go on it.

As if the time wasn't a big enough factor, you also have to add in the cost of ingredients, operating expenses (electric, gas, lease, hired help, supplies). These wonderful creations people see being done on these reality shows cost upward of $1000.00 dollars and more. Cupcakes are around $12.00 a piece. That's reality.

I personally think people are so used to going to the local Superstore and purchasing a cake for $30.00 that they can't or won't grasp the real reality of cake design. Their belief is, in my humble opinion, why should flour and sugar cost so much. But there is a lot more involved then just flour and sugar.

I love to make cakes, but I cannot see myself doing it as a business. I get horribly upset when I hear someone say, "HOW MUCH!", in regards to the price of cakes. They are a tremendous amount of work, not to mention the stress that goes along with trying to make sure that a bride's wedding cake is perfect in every aspect. After all, the bride has been dreaming of this day her entire life. Would you want to be the one thing that was not up to par of her special day.

I think the problem is ignorance, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I just believe that people are unaware of "the total picture", and it is up to the cake designers out there to enlighten the general public.

Just to give a small example, I made a wedding cake for my neices wedding. I told her I would make her cake as my wedding gift to her, but she would have to buy the ingredients. My budget at the time would not allow for the expense. When it was all said and done she had over $100.00 in ingredients alone. I will grant you that she wanted a 4 tier cake, but still we are talking about $100.00 just in ingredients.

So, the next time someone tells you that a cake costs X amount of dollars, stop to think about the time, energy, and expense that went into making that cake.

What's this?

If you are a newbie, you will often come across terms that you are unfamiliar with. I think if a person is educated to the elements of a craft it is less likely to be intimidating. So, with this blog, I am going to try and familiarize you to some common terms.

American Buttercream Icing- American buttercream is an icing made by whipping fats (e.g. hi-ratio shortenings or butter) with confectioner's sugar, flavoring, and sometimes meringue powder.

Italian Meringue Buttercream- (IMBC) is an icing made by combining whipped egg whites, and sugar and adding a hot sugar syrup. Once the heat is distributed through the bowl, butter is added and whipped until smooth.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream- (SMBC) is an icing made by heating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until sugar is completely dissolved. This mixture is then place in a mixer and whipped to a marshmallow creme consistency and then butter is added a little at a time. Then flavor is added.

Ganache- Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream. Depending on the ratio used it can be thick enough for a filling in a cake or thin enough to pour over a cake to be used as your "icing". It has a fondant look when it sets. Ganache can also be used to make truffles. Ganache can be made of Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, or White Chocolate.

Royal Icing- Royal Icing is made of either egg whites or meringue powder with confectioner's sugar and water. This icing is used mostly for decorations, because it dries very hard. You wouldn't want to ice your cake with it. It can be used for very small decorations such as dots or it can be used to make larger decorations like snowflakes or scrolls. It is also used for holding Gingerbread Houses together.

Color Flow Icing- Is used for making decorations. With the full-strength consistency you can outline pictures placed under wax-paper. Then fill in the outline with the thin consistency. It takes a long time for these to dry. Should be made a week in advance.

Fondant- is a type of rolled icing which contains glycerin, glucose, and gelatin. It is used to cover firm cakes. A cake traditionally would have been covered in a layer of marzipan to seal in the cake's moisture and then covered in fondant. Today a fondant cake can be "glazed" in many mediums including buttercream,ganache, or jams.

Marzipan- Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar and almond meal. Some marzipan is flavored with rosewater. Persipan is a similar, yet less expensive product, for which the almonds are replaced by apricot or peach kernels. In Goa almonds are replaced by cashews. Many confectionery products sold as marzipan are made from less expensive materials, such as soy paste and almond essence. German marzipan is made by grinding whole almonds with sugar and partially drying the paste, and French marzipan is made by combining ground almonds with sugar syrup. Spanish marzipan is made without bitter almonds

Pastillage- is thick sugar paste, similar to gum paste, is molded into shapes. When dried, it is hard and brittle. Made with gelatin, water and confectioner's sugar, it hardens quickly and can be shaped for a short while by hand, and after hardening it can be shaped using with electric grinders, cutters, sandpaper and assorted files.

Gum Paste- is a dough like substance that can be rolled thinner then fondant, and is used heavily in flower making and decorations that need to "stand up". Gumpaste dries to a hard consistency. It is not meant to be eaten, and it should be removed from the cake before serving.

Gum Paste glue or Adhesive- Gum Paste glue is simply an adhesive made out of Peringue Powder and water, and the glue is used for attaching flowers and other decorations.

Fondant Adhesive- Fondant adhesive is a glue made by adding water to fondant and mixing it until it becomes sticky.

Candy Clay- Candy Clay is made by melting Candy Melts and adding corn syrups to them.

Extended Mix or Box Mix- This is a store bought cake mix with a few added ingredients to extend or stretch out the cake mix.

These are a few terms that should get you started, and I hope maybe knowing what most of them are will make you feel a little less "Newbie".

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Making your cake 3-D with Rice Krispie Treats

I am not a pro in this aspect of decorating by any means, but I can give you some basic fundamentals to get you started.

First, you will need a recipe for Rice Krispie Treats. Or if you are just making a small 3-D figure and you don't want the mess, just use pre-made Rice Krispie Treats purchased from your local store.

You will also need some buttercream icing and colored fondant for whatever image you are trying to create.

I recently made a Tiger 3-D cake. So, I will use this as an illustration to demonstrate the technique.

First, you will want to form your rice krispies into whatever figure you are trying to create.

Second, take your 3-D figure and cover it evenly with buttercream. Sorry, I didn't photograph this step. Covering the 3-D figure with buttercream provides a smooth surface to apply the fondant to and allows the fondant to adhere to the Rice Krispie Treats.

Third, cover the 3-D figure with the fondant base color. I used white fondant, because I was going to hand-paint on the stripes.

Fourth, decorate the fondant. You can attach other pieces of fondant using a little water, fondant glue, or a little buttercream. As I said before, I hand-painted mine with food colors mixed with a little clear vanilla.

All that is left now is to attach the 3-D figure to your cake. Because my figure was so big, I actually put mine on a cake board. I used a cake board because I wanted to put some supports under the 3-D figure. To do this, I took my fondant covered cake and marked where the 3-D figure would go on the cake. I then took regular plastic cake support tubes and inserted them inside the marked area. I marked the point where the tube and the top of the cake met, and I removed the tube from the cake. I cut it off with a sharp serrated-edged knife and re-inserted it into the cake. After I did this I set the 3-D figure onto the supports (attaching the cake and 3-D figure together with a little icing to keep it from sliding off the cake. I then finished off the decorations by adding the white beard as a border between the two.

There are many different ways of attaching 3-D figures. You want to make certain that whatever you use is food-safe. You can use sucker sticks, popsicle sticks, wooden skewers, toothpicks (but make certain they are removed before serving), or by just using icing or fondant glue.

If this technique scares you, you can start out small. Maybe you could make a 3-D Snowman for a wintery cake, or a mushroom for a fairy cake topper. I think you will see it really isn't as difficult as you might think. Just have fun with it!

Painting on fondant

If you have looked at my slideshow, you will notice that some of my cakes have been painted. The Dale Earnhardt car I painted for my friends husband, my picnic table cake, the teddy bears picnic blanket, and my tiger cake all had painted elements on them. This is very easy to do, and it will only take me a second to tell you how to do it.

Regardless of whether you want to paint a small area or the whole cake, you can do this easily by simply mixing some icing colors with either some vodka or clear vanilla extract. The vodka would probably evaporate more quickly, but since I am not a big fan of alcohol, I prefer to use the clear vanilla extract.

To do this you will need the following items:

A good paint brush
clear vanilla extract
icing colors
toothpick or edible food markers
ice cube tray or painters palatte tray with indented cups

You first want to make sure you have a very good brush. You don't want the bristles falling out all over your fondant.

Secondly, you will need a tray to mix your icing colors in. This way you can easily change colors by rinsing your brush with some warm water.

I use Wilton's icing colors, because they are easily accessible to me. You could also use Americolors if you wish. I have even used McCormicks in a pinch.

Clear vanilla extract is not too difficult to find. I buy mine at my local Walmart, or I sometimes buy it at my local party supply store.

You don't have to be an artist to paint on fondant. Using a toothpick or edible food marker, you can easily trace an image onto the cake using a stencil or paper image.

Let's say I want to paint a baseball bat and baseball onto my fondant. If I have a stencil, I would lightly trace around the stencil with a toothpick or marker and paint my image. If I were using a paper image, I would put the image on top of a piece of wax paper and then lay both pieces on top of the cake and trace the image with a toothpick. The reason for the wax paper is to prevent the cake from becoming contaminated. If you are using a picture from, let's say a magazine, there are inks and contaminates on the paper you don't necessaryily want on the cake.

There is another way you can transfer an image to a cake that is slightly more complicated, but you can do more intricate designs. You can take an image on paper or even a photo, and you can tape the image to the bottom of a piece of acrylic, glass, or plexiglass. With the glass side facing you, trace the image with royal icing. Let the image dry thoroughly (at least one day but preferably a week). Once the image is dry, flip it over onto the fondant with the royal icing side down. Lightly press the royal icing image into the fondant. You can now either pipe around the impression or paint it. This is a technique you can use for brush embroidery as well. If you would like to watch a tutorial, check out Elaine MacGregor's "Impressing a pattern onto your cake and brush embroidery" video on this blog.

Painting fondant can be fun, especially if you can air-brush (but I'm afraid I have no expertise in this area, yet). I have seen whole cakes used as a canvas. Have fun with it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Edging, Frills and Lace in Icing

Intricate Piping and Lace Extension Work

Making a Frozen Buttercream Transfer

Frozen buttercream Transfers (or FBCT) are a fairly simple way to decorate a cake. They do take a little practice, but you can get some drastic results with them.

To do a FBCT all you will need is some thin-medium consistency icing, icing colors, piping bags, round icing tips, wax or parchment paper, a cookie sheet or a sheet of glass or plexiglass is not required but helpful (you can do this on any flat movable surface). You will also need a picture of the object you want to make an image of.

Let's say you want to put a teddy bear on your cake. You will need to find a picture of a teddy bear that you can trace with icing. You can find many images online that will work. One thing you want to remember is that when you are finished with your FBCT the image will be reversed to the image you are actually looking at, so you may want to reverse the image before printing it out. Or you can simply trace the image onto a piece of paper, and then you can flip the paper over and re-trace it on the back. This will give you a reverse image. I hope I didn't confuse you. It really is simpler then I just made it sound. In other words, you want a mirror image, so that when you are finished you end up with the original image.

If you are working on a glass sheet, tape the image to the bottom of the glass with the image "looking through the glass", and place your wax paper on top of the glass and tape it too the glass. If you are working on a cookie sheet just tape it to the pan with the image facing up and tape your wax paper over the image. You may want to outline the image and then fill in the outlines with frosting or you may just choose to color in the image like a coloring book with the closest colors to the image. Or, you may choose to use different colors from the image.

When you have finished "coloring" your image, cover the back of the image with the icing color that matches your cakes icing (e.g. white icing on cake gets white icing all over the back of the transfer) This will thicken your transfer and reduce the chance of breakage.

Once you have the image colored, simply pop it in the freezer until it is frozen solid (about 45 minutes). Be sure you are ready to put it on the cake before removing it from the freezer, as it doesn't take very long for it to start thawing out. Try to work quickly.

When you are ready to apply the FBCT, you simply remove the tape from the wax paper, slide it over onto your hand and quickly flip it onto the desired location on the cake. Press down lightly to adhere it to the cake and remove wax paper.

If the image sticks up, you may want to put some type of border around it to hide the edge of the transfer.

I know I make it sound difficult, but if you watch this video, you will see that it really is a lot easier then you think.

Decorating your cake

Hopefully, you already have the design for your cake chosen before you make the cake. If you aren't the artistic type, you can find many ideas on the internet and from cake designing books. You can mix and match ideas from more than one cake. If you are the artist type, you will be in the heighth of your glory designing your own cakes. But beware, sometimes the ideas don't always convert well from brain to cake. I always have these really cool ideas, but somehow I don't have the expertise yet to transform those thoughts into reality. But, I try not to get discouraged and trudge on.

There are some really basic designs you can put on a cake and make it look beautiful. Some of these include
SwagsandRuffles, or simply just some ribbon.

You can decorate very simply with fondant as well simply by attaching some fondant you have cut out with cookie cutters (e.g. stars, circles, squares, letters) with incredible results like these:


Or you can combine the two to create still another look.

You can decorate your cake with 3-D figures ranging from babies for shower cakes, safari animals for a zoo cake, penguins for a snowy winter scene, farm animals, landscape figures like trees, ponds, fences. Fondant can also be used to make flowers. Well you're pretty much unlimited. Attach the cut-outs with a little water, icing, or piping gel.

If you need a stand-up figure, you may want to consider adding some gumpaste to the fondant. If you don't know, gumpaste is a "dough", which when it gets dry gets hard. It can be purchase at your local Super store, party supply stores, or online.

My advice is to start out simple. Continue to progress whenever you can. The more you practice, the better you get. Practice piping swags, letters, scrollwork. You don't have to make a cake to do this. All you need is a paper plate or a sheet of either parchment or wax paper and a piping bag. When you are finished, you just wipe the icing back into a ziploc bag or container. If you won't be practicing for a while, you can always just toss it in the freezer until you are ready to use it again.

You can make roses out of icing, fondant, gumpaste or royal icings.

These are just a few techniques and ideas that can get you started. You can find many basic decorating techniques on Wilton